The Red Court Farm (Vol. 2 of 2) A Novel
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THE RED COURT FARM.
MRS. HENRY WOOD.
IN TWO VOLUMES.--VOL. II.
LEIPZIG: BERNHARD TAUCHNITZ.
PARIS: C. REINWALD & CIE, 15, RUE DESSAINTS-P»RES.
PARIS: THE GALIGNANI LIBRARY, 224, RUE DE RIVOLI,
AND AT NICE, 48, QUAI ST. JEAN BAPTISTE.
This Collection is, published with copyright forContinental circulation, but all purchasers are earnestly requested not tointroduce the volumes into England or into any British Colony.
THE RED COURT FARM BY MRS. HENRY WOOD.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
RED COURT FARM.
MRS. HENRY WOOD,
AUTHOR OF "EAST LYNNE," "TREVLYN HOLD," ETC.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
The Right of Translation is reserved.
OF VOLUME II.
|I.||At School in London.|
|III.||Isaac Thornycroft's Stratagem.|
|VI.||The Half-moon Beach.|
|VII.||My Lady at the Red Court.|
|VIII.||A Last Interview.|
|IX.||The Crowd in the Early Morning.|
|X.||Shot down from the Heights.|
|XI.||The Coroner's Inquest.|
|XII.||Robert Hunter's Funeral.|
|XIV.||Robert Hunter's Ghost.|
|XV.||In the Churchyard Porch.|
|XVI.||In the Dog-cart to Jutpoint.|
|XVIII.||Disclosing it to Justice Thornycroft.|
THE RED COURT FARM.
PART THE THIRD.
At School in London.
Two years have gone by, and it is June again.
A good, substantial house in one of the western suburbs of themetropolis--Kensington. By the well-rubbed brass plate on the irongate of the garden, and the lady's name on it--"Miss Jupp"--it may betaken for a boarding-school. In fact, it is one: a small select school(as so many schools proclaim themselves now; but this really is such);and, kept by Miss Jupp, once of Katterley. That is, by Miss Jupp andtwo of her sisters, but she wisely calls it by her own name singly,avoiding the ugly style of the plural "Miss Jupp's establishment."
Fortune changes with a great many of us; every day, every hour of ourlives, some are going up, others down. When death removed old Mr. Jupp(an event that occurred almost close upon poor Mrs. Lake's), then hisdaughters found that they had not enough to get along in the world.Wisely taking time and circumstances by the forelock, the three elderones, Mary, Margaret, and Emma, removed to London, took a good houseat Kensington, and by the help of influential friends very soon hadpupils in it. Dorothy and Rose were married; Louisa remained atKatterley with her widowed mother. They professed to take ten pupilsonly: once or twice the number had been increased to twelve; the termswere high, but the teaching was good, and the arrangements were reallyfirst-class. It was with the Miss Jupps that Mary Anne Thornycroft hadbeen placed. And she did not run away from them.
Quite the contrary. The summer holidays have just set in, and she isto go home for them; as she did the previous midsummer; but she isexpressing a half wish, now as she stands before Miss Margaret Jupp,that she could spend them where she is, in London. Long and long agohas she grown reconciled to the regularity of a school life, and toregard Miss Jupp's as a second and happy home. She spent the firstChristmas holidays with them; the second Christmas (last) atCheltenham with her stepmother; she and her brother Cyril.
Lady Ellis (retaining still the name) is in very ill health now.Almost simultaneously with quitting the Red Court after her marriage,a grave inward disorder manifested itself. Symptoms of it indeed hadbeen upon her for some time, even before leaving India; but--as is thecase with many other symptoms--they had been entirely disregarded,their grave nature unsuspected. Instead of leading a gay life at thegay inland watering-place, flaunting her charms and her fashion in theeyes of other sojourners, Lady Ellis found herself compelled to live avery quiet one. She has a small villa, an establishment of twoservants only; and she does not wish for more. In heart, in nature,she is growing altered, and the refining, holy influence that veryoften--God be praised!--changes the whole heart and spirit with achange which is not of this world, is coming over her. Two visits onlyhas she paid to the Red Court Farm, staying about six weeks each time,and Mr. Thornycroft goes to Cheltenham two or three times a year. MissThornycroft and her stepmother are civil to each other now, not to sayfriendly; and when she invited the young lady and her brother Cyrilfor the holidays last Christmas, they went. The previous midsummerthey had spent together at Coastdown, it having been one of theperiods of my lady's two visits. Fortune had contrived well for LadyEllis, and her marriage with the wealthy master of the Red Court Farmenabled her to enjoy every substantial comfort in her hour of need.
Two other young ladies connected in a degree with this history are atMiss Jupp's this evening; the rest of the pupils have left. One of thetwo we have met before, one not. They are in the room now, and you maylook at them. All three, including Miss Thornycroft, are about thesame age--between eighteen and nineteen. She, Mary Anne, is the sametall, stately, fair, handsome, and (it must be owned) haughty girlthat you knew before; the fine face is resolute as ever, the cold blueeyes as honest and uncompromising. She had been allowed to dress asexpensively at Miss Jupp's as her inclination leads: to-day she wearsa rich pale-blue silk; blue ribbons are falling from her fair hair.She is standing doing nothing: but sitting in a chair by her side,toying with a bit of fancy-work, is a plain, dark, merry-looking girlin a good useful nut-brown silk, Susan Hunter. She is the sister ofRobert Hunter, several years his junior, and has been sent up fromYorkshire by her aunt, with whom she lives, to have two years of"finish" at a London school. Accident--not their having once knownsomething of her brother--led to the school fixed on being MissJupp's. And now for the last.
In a grey alpaca dress, trimmed with a little ribbon velvet of thesame hue, her head bent patiently over a pile of drawings that she istouching up, sits the third. A very different footing in the school,hers, from that of the other two; they pay the high, full terms;she pays nothing, but works out her board with industry. Have youforgotten that pale, gentle face, one of the sweetest both in featureand expression ever looked upon, with the fine silky chestnut hairmodestly braided round it, and the soft brown eyes that take all thebest feelings of a genuine heart by storm? The weary look telling ofincessant industry, the pile of work that she does not look up from,the cheap holiday-dress (her best) costing little, all proclaimsufficiently her dependent position in the house--a slight, gracefulgirl of middle height, with a sort of drooping look in her figure, asif she were, and had been all her life, in the habit of being pushedinto the background?
It is Anna Chester. Her life since we saw her has been like thatof a dray horse. Mrs. Chester placed her at an inferior school aspupil-teacher, where she had many kinds of things to do, and themistress's own children to take care of in the holidays. For a yearand a half she stayed at it, doing her best patiently, and then theMiss Jupps took her. She has to work very much still, and her healthis failing. Captain and Mrs. Copp have invited her to Coastdown for achange, and she goes down to-morrow with Miss Thornycroft. Miss Hunterspends the holidays at school.
Mrs. Chester? Mrs. Chester quitted Guild, to set up a fashionableboarding-house in London. It did not answer; the mass of peopleremained cruelly indifferent to its advertisements; and the few whotried it ran away and never paid her. She then removed to Paris, where(as some friends assured her) a good English boarding-house was muchwanted; and, if her own reports are to be trusted, she is likely to dopretty well at it.
There remains only one more person to mention of those we formerlyknew; and that is Robert Hunter. Putting his shoulder to the wheel inearnest, as only a resolute and capable man can put it; I had almostsaid as one only who has some expiation to work out; his days arespent in hard industry. He is the practical energetic man of business;never spending a moment in waste, never willingly allowing himselfrecreation. The past folly, the past idleness of that time, not sovery long gone by, recurs to his memory less frequently than it used,but ever with the feeling of a nightmare. He is still with the samefirm, earning a liberal salary. Since a day or two only has he been inLondon, but there's some talk of his remaining in it now. Nothingseems to be further from his thoughts than any sort of pleasure: itwould seem that he has one vocation alone in life--work.
These three young ladies were going out this afternoon. To a grandhouse, too: Mrs. Macpherson's. The professor, good simple man, hadbeen content, socially speaking, with a shed on the top of Aldgatepump: not so madam. As the professor rose more and more intodistinction, she rose; and the residence in Bloomsbury was exchangedfor a place at Kensington. Possibly the calling occasionally on theMiss Jupps, had put it into her head. A house as grand as its namein the matter of decoration; but not of undue size: Mrs. Macphersonhad good common sense, and generally exercised it. A dazzling whitefront with a pillared portico and much ornamentation outside andin--"Majestic Villa." The professor had wanted to change the name, butmadam preferred to retain it. It was not very far from Miss Jupp's,and these young ladies were going there to spend the evening.
In all the glory of her large room, with its decorations of white andgold, its mirrors, its glittering cabinets, its soft luxurious carpet,its chairs of delicate green velvet, sat Mrs. Macpherson, waiting forthese young guests. In all her own glory of dress, it may be said, forthat was not less conspicuous than of yore, and that of to-day lookedjust as if it were chosen to accord with the hangings--a green satinrobe with gold leaves for trimmings, and a cap that could not be seenfor sprays and spangles. In her sense of politeness--and she possessedan old-fashioned stock of it--Mrs. Macpherson had dressed herselfbetimes, not to leave the young ladies alone after they came. Thus,when they arrived, under the convoy of Miss Emma Jupp, who left themat the door, Mrs. Macpherson was ready to receive them.
It was the first time they had been there for many weeks; for theprofessor had been abroad on a tour in connexion with some of theologies, as his wife expressed it, in which she had accompanied him.The result of this was, that Mrs. Macpherson had no end of Parisiannovelties, in the shape of dress, to display to them in her chamber.
"I know what girls like," she said, in her hearty manner, "and thatis, to look at new bonnets and mantles, and try 'em on."
But Mary Anne Thornycroft--perhaps because she could indulge in sucharticles at will--cared not a jot for these attractions, and said sheshould go down to see the professor.
He had some rooms at the back of the house, where his collection ofscientific curiosities--to call things by a polite name--had beenstowed. And here the professor, when not out, spent his time. MaryAnne quite loved the man, so simple-minded and yet great-minded at oneand the same time, and never failed to penetrate to his rooms whenoccasion offered. Quickly wending her way through the passages, sheopened the door softly.
It was not very easy to distinguish clearly at first, what with thecrowd of things darkening the windows, and the mass of objectsgenerally. At a few yards' distance, slightly bending over a sort ofupright desk, as if writing something, stood a gentleman; butcertainly not the professor. His back was towards her; he hadevidently not heard her enter, and a faint flush of surprise dawned onMary Anne's face, for in that first moment she thought it was herbrother Cyril. It was the same youthful, supple, slender figure; thesame waving hair, of a dark auburn, clustering round